Bulgaria has ample sunflower oil, but tensions simmer as prices soar

The sunflower oil saga in Bulgaria is continuing, after prices soared in recent days, with a special price offer by a chain leading to queues and tensions on Saturday and the government repeating assurances that there are ample supplies.

The government has alleged that producers are indulging in speculation, a charge they deny, pointing to sharp increases in prices of oil-bearing sunflowers, electricity and gas, that have pushed up production costs.

Concern among the public about supplies of sunflower oil has been heated by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Producers have predicted that should the war come to an end, prices would revert to normal.

Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported on March 12 that in many places in the country there were large queues outside branches of a retail chain that was offering sunflower oil at a promotional price.

The report said that in Shoumen, a price of 2.99 leva a litre of sunflower oil prompted people to queue for hours even before the shops opened. That price is about half that charged by shops in several places in Bulgaria this week.

In Haskovo, a fight broke out among customers, prompting police to intervene, the report said.

Stocks of sunflower oil priced at 2.99 leva soon ran out, to be replaced by bottles priced at four leva.

BNR reported a resident of Haskovo as saying that after people bought entire stacks, the shop imposed a limit of four bottles a customer.

Plovdiv media reported that queues several hundred metres long formed in the city outside branches of the chain store.

The Economy Ministry said on March 12 that minister Kornelia Ninova had met sunflower oil producers.

“The general opinion is that there is a sufficient amount of oil produced. There are stocks of sunflower seeds,” said Ninova, who earlier this week said that Bulgaria had stocks of oil-bearing sunflowers sufficient for more than four years.

She said that the panic had been created artificially.

“There is no shortage on the market. There is oil to flood the whole country,” Ninova said.

(Photo: teteria sonnna, via Wikimedia Commons)

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